ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan completed its second consecutive 10-win season, but did so on a down note with a 33-32 loss to Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
Landof10 takes a look at how Michigan (10-3, 7-2 Big Ten Conference) fared this season.
Michigan’s defense started the season as a force to be reckoned with, especially its pass defense, which opened its first three games without All-American cornerback Jourdan Lewis. Michigan’s defensive line was both stout and deep, but the biggest surprise was at linebacker, where Ben Gedeon, Mike McCray and Jabrill Peppers stood out after the unit had lost its top three players from 2015.
|By the numbers||2016||Big Ten rank||NCAA rank|
|3rd down %||21.02%||1st||1st|
|20+ yard plays||43||1st||7th|
|50+ yard plays||5||4th||T-26th|
Defensive line: A-
Depth continued to be the key for Michigan’s defensive line, and the Wolverines went through 2016 without any major injuries to its defensive line, save for Bryan Mone’s absence for the first month with a knee injury sustained in Michigan’s season opener, a 63-3 win against Hawaii.
Defensive line coach Greg Mattison has a philosophy of building depth as opposed to just strength, and that development was evident in two players: freshman Rashan Gary and junior tight end Chase Winovich, who played his first full season at defense, after having played tight end and linebacker during his first two years at Michigan.
In Mattison’s system, Michigan was 15th in the nation in rush defense (119.23) and fifth in sacks (46). Michigan’s veterans thrived: Anticipate Chris Wormley, Taco Charlton, Ryan Glasgow and Matt Godin to play in the NFL next season.
Prior to the season, the linebacking corps elicited the most questions after having lost Joe Bolden, James Ross III and Desmond Morgan to graduation. The addition of Jabrill Peppers as a hybrid pass-rush defender boosted Michigan at linebacker, where he teamed with Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray to combine for 254 tackles, 13 sacks and 15 quarterback hurries.
However, Michigan’s front seven — and notably the linebackers — wore down as the season went on. Michigan’s rush defense totals inflated in the final month of the season, after having allowed fewer than 100 yards in six of its first seven games. It began Oct. 29 when the Wolverines struggled to contain Michigan State running back LJ Scott and allowed 217 rushing yards in a 32-23 win in East Lansing, Mich. Opponents ran for at least 149 yards in four of Michigan’s final six games.
Michigan’s brightest and most effective defensive area was its secondary that featured four senior standouts: cornerbacks Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling and safeties Delano Hill and Dymonte Thomas. The secondary quartet helped the Wolverines record the nation’s top pass defense, allowing 142.5 yards per game.
Stribling’s penchant for playmaking was especially notable this season. Stribling led Michigan with 17 passes defended, including four interceptions. Lewis missed the first three games with back issues and a muscle strain but remained effective through the course of the season, finishing with 13 defended passes (two interceptions).
Overall defense: A-
Check out the grades for other aspects of Michigan’s 2016 season:
Related: Michigan’s midseason defensive grades.